Pyrenees Gathering Trip 2008

Thursday, Nov 13, 2008 at 18:06

Sir Kev

The Pyrenees Gathering was held again this year from the 7th till the 9th of November. I was the first to register that I would be attending and as it turned out I was the only Queensland resident to make the journey south to Mexico.

I departed from Calliope on the Monday 3 November and spent Monday and Tuesday nights in St George QLD (daily tally of 650km). This enabled me to finalise some food shopping and offload some stuff to family that I had bough from home. I was still at this stage unsure of the route I would take to the Pyrenees from St George as I had to find out if Madfisher had gotten out of Jury Duty in Bathurst. I received a call from him at about 3 pm Tuesday afternoon to say that he was available and raring to go. I refulled at the Mobil in St George for $1.429c/L.

So Wednesday morning I headed off from St George. I took a minor road from St George to Dirranbandi (Whynebah Road), this road is only suitable for dry conditions as it traverses black soil flood plains after it crosses the Balonne River at Whynebah. It is approximately 30 – 40km shorter than following the blacktop via Noondoo to Dirranbandi. I would not hesitate in towing an on road van along it as long as the speed was reduced. I averaged 90 – 105km/h along the dirt sections.

From Dirranbandi I headed for Hebel and caught up with numerous Wheat harvesting machines and sundry equipment, the wheat harvest is in full swing and trucks hauling grain were everywhere (some were triple road trains with erratic third trailers).

From Hebel, I headed south over the border (adjusted the watch forward an hour) to cockroach land past Lightening Ridge and through to Dubbo. Through this section I reckon I saw about 100 Emus, some had 3 generations with last years chick still hanging around the male and this years chicks following along contently.

I rolled into Bathurst about 5pm and met Madfisher at work. I refuelled at the Shell for $1.569c/L the most expensive place for fuel of the trip. I stayed at Madfishers place Wednesday night and as he lived about 500m from Mt Panorama I had to do a hot lap of the race circuit. Darkie was fully loaded for the trip and he did a 7 minute lap with a top speed up mountain straight of 45km/h.

With an early start from Bathurst we headed for the Pyrenees via Cowra, Young, Cootamundra, across to the Hume highway and south to Violet Town. The Hume highway is still undergoing construction of the dual carriage way and we were stuck several times by Stop/Go workers ?
From Violet Town we headed west through to Bendigo and beyond to the Pyrenees.

When we arrived there was Steve and Denny, Scrubcat, Muzbury and Wes, and Jeff O already there and set up. We made camp in a high spot as Scrubby informed us that it was predicted to rain on the Friday, just what I didn’t want. After a successful night of spotting Satellites, we saw a total of 14, we had a good night sleep under canvas.

Friday arrived with overcast conditions and I aired Darkie’s tyres down to 20PSI

We then set off for a little play before the rain came. We followed Scrubby up to the Glenpatrick North Track, which Scrubby informed use that he and Jeff O couldn’t get up due to having road bias tyres and normal tyre pressures.

Scrubby continued onto the 4 lane highway Emery Tack, while we went up Glenpatrick North Track. Darkie went up the track quite easily and from the top we decided to cut back to Emery Track to meet up again with Scrubby. The 2 un-named tracks from North Glenpatrick to Emery track that are marked on the DSE map are no longer able to be traversed as we were to find out. One of the tracks has a nice turn around track dozed so that you are able to turn around without any safety concerns. The other track is a little more exciting, we descended the track and crossed a dry creek crossing and began to climb again only to find that this track has also been closed. A short reversing effort back to the dry creek resulted in Madfisher frantically telling me to stop and not reverse any further into the creek. He opened his door and there was a 3 – 4 foot drop with Darkies rear passenger wheel about 6” from the drop off. Madfishers head was approximately level with the door sill on Darkie.

A short drive forward to correct where Darkie was positioned and I had an easy 6 point turn in the creek bed to get back up the track.

Once we got back on the North Glenpatrick Track we headed up to the Emery Track junction. Along Emery’s Track we came across Muzbry and Little Wes and found out that they had locked Scrubby’s hubs in for him and that he had continued down Mills track and back to camp. From there we descended the steep section of Emery’s Track and headed back to camp.

Back in camp the heavens opened up and set in for the day. I lighted a fire in the shelter’s fireplace. Throughout the day more attendees arrived and started to set up camp in the rain. Mad Cowz was the best prepared for wet weather tent erection as he was wearing his milking bib and brace overalls and a wet weather jacket.

By 8pm the rain had ceased and Saturday loomed to be a fine day.

An early arrival on Saturday morning was Robin Miller and the collective group formed 3 motley groups to go trekking.

I joined the small group of John R (trip Leader) and Robin Miller and we spent the day traversing the Landsborough Track. The first track of the day was Old King Tree Track

John R was in the lead and he slipped and scrambled his way up the track and was using the Traction Control feature to the max, Robin used his diff locks to get up the track and Darkie just spun the wheels and didn’t want to go up the slightly damp track. Luckily there was a detour track as I didn’t want to use the winch on the 1st track of the day ;)

Further along in the day we came across some of the old gold mine diggings

When getting back into the vehicles Madfisher decided that he wanted to grace Robin with his presence and tried to hop into the Patrol hahahaha
He tried it again on Sunday as well LMAO

We concluded the days travel by heading along the blacktop to a winery and then cutting through to I think Scallops Track and then down North Glenpatrick Track back to camp.

Back in camp I cooked up a small roast Lamb that Madfisher and I easily accounted for. I have now mastered cooking lamb roasts in the Hill Billy Camp Oven.
After dinner the raffle was drawn and Lucy received the inaugural Knob award. He was still smug about receiving the award on Sunday morning

Sunday dawned a clear and wonderful day, I received a message from Lyn saying that they were on there way from Romsey. They arrived around 9:30am and the group as a whole headed off for a morning of adventure in the hills.

We traversed North Glenpatrick, then down the recently dozed Fraser track, then across to Old Bluff Track.
Bonz the Fearless leader went up the chicken track so we wouldn’t laugh at him when he got stuck ;) But Lucy went up the centre track and used his diff locks to good use. The 2 Prado’s followed Lucy’s lead and made it to the top of that section. I followed them up and made it with a slight need to have a second attempt in one part.
Lyn and Al found the need to used the 3” Exhaust and Chip to launch them selves up the track resulting in the 2 front wheels becoming airbourne.

The last section of the Old Bluff Track had Lyn and the kids vacating the vehicle on Al as it was a rough ride (so Lyn is saying LOL). Darkie drove up it with a minimum of fuss

Willem scored the cool customer award by driving the last section of Old Bluff Track with 13 PSI and one hand on the wheel

At the top of the Old Bluff Track we stopped for lunch and the group went in 2 different ways, those wanting to go back to pack up camp and go home and those who had time to kill. The time to kill group consisted of John R, Willem and myself. We headed off for Old Tiger Cat Track.

Darkie handled going both up and down with ease, which was a lot better than my old Triton last year.

From there we headed along Nowhere Creek Track then up Mill Track then down the Old Emery Track back to camp.
Sunday evening we had a combined evening meal with those who remained for the night. An early night was had (about 10:30pm) and the next morning we broke camp and headed for Bathurst along a similar route as we came down, although we headed North to Wagga Wagga to avoid the stop/go works on the Hume highway.

I spent the night at Madfishers again before heading north once again to St George. This time there were very few Harvesters on the road and emus were few and far between.

I spent the night in St George and headed for home on Wednesday morning and decided to try a different route to others I had tried. I went from Surat to Yuleba via a gravel road and then tried the previously untried Yuleba to Taroom road. I would not recommend this road to anyone. It is not maintained and is in poor condition. It cut about 40km from the trip but was very difficult to drive along. It is overgrown with grass with bulldust patches. It is black soil in the area and if it was wet I would still be there. I had no Next G signal but had uhf coverage as the road was close enough to the other arterial roads in the area.

I had a great time travelling down to Mexico for the Pyrenees Gathering and am now considering doing it again next year if it is held.
Thanks to Pete (Madfisher) for the company from Bathurst, and the 2 night accommodation. I hope to see you there again next year in your own vehicle so we can test it out in the real stuff.

For those interested this was the first major trip since I fitted the Stratos LTSS suspension seat. I had not previously driven for more than 700km in a day with a rest day the preceding day. This trip involved a day of 650km, 750km and 850km without a days rest. My back felt as good as before the trip so IMHO it is well worth the effort to get it fitted. It was superb in offroad conditions and I was very relaxed in the drivers seat.

The total number of kilometers for the trip was 4692.4km, Darkie used 822.04 Litres at a total cost of$1160.4

This works out to 17.5Litres per 100km without including an error of 4% for the oversized tyres.

Russell Coight:
He was presented with a difficult decision: push on into the stretching deserts, or return home to his wife.
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